A number of materials hazardous to health occur in the workplace as aerosols—suspensions of solid or liquid particles in air. Dust is generally defined as an aerosol of solid particles, mechanically produced, of diameters 0.1µm and above. Fumes are aerosols of solid particles condensed from the vapor state; smoke is composed of solid and/or liquid particles also generated from a vapor state, both of which are particles sized 0.1µm or less but agglomerate into “clouds”. Mists are aerosols formed from liquid droplets. The term “aerosols” generally describes any suspension of particles in air, whether the airborne particles constitute a solid dust, airborne fibers or droplets, fumes, smoke or mists.*
Personal dust monitors enable workers to monitor their dust exposure in real-time and empowers them to make adjustments to reduce their individual exposure to concentrations that don’t exceed allowable limits. Respirable fractions of airborne dusts reach the lungs and lead to the development of a variety of lung disorders and diseases. Respirable dust cannot be seen. If a dust cloud is visible, it’s probable that some portion of this dust will be in the respirable size range. It’s necessary to quantify this respirable range to assess potentially hazardous work environments, reduce worker exposure and validate control mechanisms.
Monitoring silica, titanium, beryllium, welding fumes, abrasive blasting media, metal-working fluids and other “industrial” or “agricultural” aerosols can significantly reduce risk liabilities by determining the source, developing dust reduction protocols and validating the effectiveness of each with continuous data and the ability to alert and alarm workers.
* CEN/TR 15230: 2005